IELTS Listening has four sections, each with 10 items (or questions). Each item is worth one mark. The items are designed so that the answers appear in order in the listening passage. During the test, time is given for candidates to read the questions and write down and check their answers. Answers are written on the Question Paper as candidates listen. When the tape ends, ten minutes are allowed for candidates to transfer their answers onto an Answer Sheet.
The table below provides a summary of IELTS Listening.
SECTION Topic Area Input Main Skill Focus Number of Questions
1 Social needs Conversation with a transactional purpose e.g. finding out about travel services Listening for and noting specific factual information 10
2 Social needs Monologue or prompted monologue with a transactional purpose e.g. giving information about a public event Listening for and noting specific factual information 10
3 Education and training Discussion between 2 – 4 people in an academic context, e.g. tutorial or seminar Following a conversation which involves negotiation of meaning. Listening for specific information, attitudes, and speakers' opinions 10
4 Education and training Monologue in an academic context e.g. lecture Following an academic argument. Listening for main ideas, specific information, attitude and speaker's opinion 10
Candidates write their answers on an answer sheet.
Approximately 30 minutes plus 10 minutes transfer time.
Each question carries one mark, giving a total of 40 marks.
The first two sections are concerned with social needs. There is a dialogue between two speakers, for example a conversation about travel arrangements, and then a monologue, for example a recording about museum opening times.
The final two sections are concerned with situations related more closely to educational or training contexts. There is a conversation between up to four people, for example a conversation between a tutor and a student about an assignment, and then a further monologue, for example a lecture of general academic interest.
A variety of task types is used. The principal task types are:
Task Type 1 Forms/Notes/Table/Flow-chart/Summary Completion
Task Type 2 Multiple Choice
Task Type 3 Short-answer Questions
Task Type 4 Sentence Completion
Task Type 5 Labelling a Diagram/Plan/Map
Task Type 6 Classification
Task Type 7 Matching
Each section is played ONCE only. The recordings include a range of accents, including British, Australian, New Zealand and American.